- Run, Run Away
- Singing to the Deaf
- Of Another
- Lily, I can See
- Fever Dream
- Oh, Bembeya
- Teenage Sun (part 2)
- Savage Grass
- Cupped Palm
Digital download includes
- Teenage Sun (part 1)
- The Glories and the Follies of all the Melancholies
- I Know Your Trick
**This pressing comes on dark blue vinyl!**
“Any suckers for eclectic musical unions will have no trouble sinking their teeth into Slow Moses’ newest release, Charity Binge. The Phoenix-based quintet have somehow fused the convoluted melodic structures of psychedelic rock with the driving polyrhythms of West African highlife; add to this the sober judgement of pop sensibility, and the end result proves an original and surprisingly coherent sound.” - Jonathan Duffey, 2016
Downtown Phoenix can be a strange and dark place. The heat, sucked in and stored by the asphalt, emanates upward from the streets, mostly empty save the few dazed and bruised strangers who wander them. Even in the middle of the night, long after the sun has set to the distant west, the heat remains. Downtown Phoenix is the site of the Dressing Room, the DIY performance space/studio where Slow Moses, an eclectic collective of four or five (give or take) musicians led by Wally Boudway and Ross Andrews, recorded their Jealous Butcher Records debut Charity Binge. Now decommissioned, it was a permeable space, with frequent comers and goers, folks wandering in from the nearby mental ward to listen to the strange sounds bouncing out onto Roosevelt St.
“It was an open door policy,” Boudway explains. Things quickly went south. Gear got busted and stolen, people got confused, and the experiment in maximal egalitarianism was subject to gritty, even deranged, factors. Things broke down — “demolition in motion,” Boudway says — and Charity Binge manages to reflect some of that process, gloriously beat up and curiously joyful at its state.
The hot, woozy quality of the record is rooted in those Sonoran surroundings — “All the billboards keep one eye, on the teenage sun in the Phoenix sky,” the lyrics of the two-part epic “Teenage Sun” goes — but Slow Moses’ sound is borderless by nature, incorporating the sounds of African highlife (see the polyrhythmic and impressionistic “Oh Bembaya,” an ode to the late Demba Camara, leader of Bembeya Jazz National), creeping psychedelia (hear “Fever Dream,” its slide guitars swaying like thin reeds in the monsoon breeze) and dismantled rock & roll swagger (try “Run, Run Away”). There are moments of delirious pop, like “Amen,” with its pulsing, motorik drums and the strutting “Of Another,” but the songs sound elastic, capable of withstanding vigorous tugging at both edges, stretched out like silly putty.
“Songs want to speed up and slow down,” Boudway says. “Songs want to have a temporality to them.”
Like Califone, which counts Boudway and guitarist Ross Andrews among its amorphous roster, Charity Binge is the result of thorough deconstruction and assemblage: guitars and vocals smooshed and pulled, rhythm sections twisted, manipulated, looped, the makeshift recording studio serving as an instrument, the raw recordings subject to transformative demands by Boudway and Andrews, who fixate on and accentuate each stray note or slippery guitar line, always looking to build the foundations of the record’s songs on distinctly organic and human moments.
“Often, we’re playing with song ideas and recording before we know where they’re going,” Boudway says.
Utilizing surprise tactics, like recording performers unaware they’re being recorded, Boudway listens for elements which have an “offness” to them, a shaky humanity to the grooves that will be built into songs. It’s not the easiest approach, but it yields results far removed from the antiseptic sheen of most modern indie rock. And so Charity Binge becomes something of a mirror to those sweaty Dressing Room nights: filled with transient characters, blurry images, and constant, fitful creativity.